The Importance of Warming Up

The Importance of Warming Up

Contributed by Jack Alford JSA Fit

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It’s no secret that warming up is up there with one of the most important components within fitness, but I can tell you now that it is also one of the most overlooked, almost forgot in some athletes training.

From my own personal experience, neglecting warming up is like neglecting your key sessions. It's a ticking time bomb, and while the human body is robust and can deal with high amounts of stress, it will eventually buckle and the scary thing is, you have no idea when.

jack on bike

I personally class warming up as key sessions, these sessions are used as warm ups, morning activation sessions and can even be used as strength sessions if you increase the resistance.

I find that spending 10-20 mins warming up doesn’t just help me physically, it preps me for what I'm about to do, mentally I'm getting in the zone to nail my session. A well developed warm up procedure will not only reduce the risk of injury, it will increase athletic performance and have the body firing on all cylinders.

Understanding the science of warming up is pretty simple. Muscle tissue needs to be activated, joints grooving nicely, with adequate blood flow and oxygen supply to respond to the task at hand. This is where the injury prevention term is thrown around a lot when warm ups are talked about.


Move montage

Now you know warming up is more than a few leg swings and 5 minute easy jog, lets move on.

Stretching Is Not Quite "Warming Up"

Static stretching, while a great tool to have in your arsenal, will not prime the tissue in a way, that a well designed warm up will. This is an old school method. Times have changed and we must move with them.

The main aim of stretching is to increase flexibility, not activate muscle tissue, lubricate joints and fire the nervous system up. I much prefer a dynamic approach.

If you are performing a dynamic exercise (swim, biking, running or anything else for that matter where your limbs are moving), why would it be best to do something static?

Jack running

We are trying to activate tissue and movements across all planes that will mimic the activity we are about to partake in.

Static stretching is best performed post training, when the muscles are at their warmest, helping the athlete work on gaining some flexibility are reduce any DOMS (delayed, onset, muscle soreness)

Having a basic understanding of anatomy, muscle names, what muscles you are going to use is a great help here, but it's pretty simple.

When designing a warm up I like to target the full body, especially for triathlon with the body working on all planes, it's important to target everywhere, but put a slight emphasis on a certain are for each sport.

For example, running and cycling would be full body, with a slight emphasis on lower body, glutes and core. For swimming the emphasis would lean toward upper body and core, while still hitting the legs.

I've worked with some of what I consider to be the most intelligent people I've ever met. I was trained by people I admire; they are leaders in their field and this information comes from experience and proven track record.

I'll give you and example of a typical running warm up that I would put together. Feel free to save the image and share it.

Jack warm up

As you can see, we cover the whole body to a degree, while putting a slight emphasis on the lower body. Targeting every muscle would be too taxing on the body and your time, this warm up would will get you firing. You can obviously adjust the sets and reps initially based on your own ability, but the movements alone will enhance your performance.

One thing I love about warming up is the fact it's money in the bank. It's mentally telling myself, I'm prepped, I'm ready, let's go.

Jack on bench

I urge you to take the same mentality and find time to nail a warm up like the above, create your own and monitor your performance. I don’t know anyone I've had take this approach come back and say it wasn't for them.
Here's to longevity.

“To continue to work, to continue to love what you do, is certainly a contributing element to one’s longevity and health. “

John Williams


Thanks to Jack for sharing his expertise.. For more inspiration, follow him on Instagram @JSAFit

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